No. 6 Softball Opens Pac-10 Season Hosting No. 2 Arizona
March 27, 2002
ON TAP: The sixth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (30-7) will open Pac-10 Conference action, hosting second-ranked Arizona (31-4) on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30. Both games are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. first pitch at Farrington Stadium.
LIFE'S A BEACH: Senior All-American pitcher/designated player Erica Beach continues to have a stellar career as a Sun Devil. Beach currently holds Arizona State's all-time record for home runs (23) and RBIs (143), and is third all-time in wins (64) and fifth in strikeouts (406). This season, Beach has posted a new career-high for wins at 18-4 (five shutouts) with a 1.11 ERA and 106 strikeouts. Beach tallied two wins, helping ASU win the title at the National Invitational Softball Tournament. During the run to the crown, Beach pitched 21 innings, with 18 strikeouts, allowing only one earned run for a 0.33 ERA. Beach recorded her first win, a 1-0 one-hit shutout in the championship bracket against Long Beach State. Beach went eight innings, allowing the one hit for her fifth shutout of the year. In what turned out to be the championship game against 17th-ranked Iowa, Beach came in relief with one out and two Hawkeye's on base and proceeded to get out of that jam. She then pitch four more innings, allowing only three hits with six strikeouts as ASU went on to win 5-1. Against Northern Iowa, Beach pitched eight and a third innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters. After posting a perfect 3-0 record at the Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament, Beach was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. She tossed her third shutout of the year against Oklahoma State and was a main factor in Arizona State winning the tournament title as she pitched 21 innings, striking out 13, while allowing only one earned run. The earned run was the first all year, snapping a streak of 39 and two-thirds innings. The honor is Beach's fifth Pac-10 award of her career. At the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, Beach posted back to back one-hit games against No. 16 Fresno State and New Mexico State, flirting each time with no-hitters deep into the games. As a junior, Beach claimed Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week, Pac-10 Player of the Week honors and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week.
TOUGH SCHEDULE/TOUGHER CONFERENCE: As in any season, Arizona State will face many of the nation's top teams and traditionally holds a high RPI. Last year, ASU led the Pac-10 in most games played against top-25 teams (35). This year, ASU has played 10 games against top-25 teams, posting a 7-3 mark. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team nearly every time out. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-14, including five of the top eight. In 2002, Pac-10 teams gave combined to post a 222-53 (.807) overall record against non-conference teams and a 51-20 (.718) mark versus top-25 teams. Last year, seven of the eight teams made regional appearances with four teams advancing to the College World Series. Pac-10 teams have won 11 of the past 14 WCWS titles.
OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: Sophomore Phelan Wright is picking up where she left off after an outstanding freshman year. Wright is leading the team in batting average (.480), home runs (6), doubles (13) and is second in RBIs (30). In six games at the KIA Klassic Tournament she batted .700 (14-20) with six doubles, nine RBIs and four runs scored as ASU was the sole Pac-10 team (UA, UW) to advance to the semifinals of the KIA. In all six games she posted multi-hit games with 20 total bases and a 1.000 slugging percentage, earning Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In the opening pool game against Texas, Wright went 2-for-4 with a double, knocking in two of the three runs, including the game winner in the top of the eighth. Against No. 14 DePaul, Wright went a perfect 4-for-4 with another double and three RBIs as ASU won its pool over DePaul 6-5. Against Rutgers, she again went perfect, going 2-for-2 (both doubles) with two runs scored and one RBI as ASU run ruled Rutgers, 11-1. In the quarterfinal game against No. 2 Arizona, Wright again provided the firepower, going 2-for-3 with a run scored as ASU shutout Arizona, 3-0. In the semifinals against No. 9 Cal State Fullerton, she went 2-for-3 with one double and three RBIs. At the NFCA Leadoff Classic, she batted .563 (9-16) with four doubles, one home run, six runs scored and four RBIs. As a freshman, Wright was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year after leading ASU in batting average (.399/average was the highest posted by a freshman in the Pac-10 since 1999), hits (67) triples (2) and slugging percentage (.530). She also earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week honors and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In 21 Pac-10 games she batted an amazing .418 in the pitching rich conference and posted the team's longest hitting streak at 13 games (fifth longest in the Pac-10). Wright produced a team-high 18 RBIs with two outs and finished tied for second on the team with 17 multi-hit games and third in multi-RBI games (6). Additionally, she batted .530 at the National Invitational Softball Tournament, earning all-tournament honors and led the team in postseason batting average at a .455 clip, earning Region III All-Tournament team honors.
DYNAMIC DUO: Seniors Missy Hixon and Nichole Thompson, who play second base and center field/first base respectively, each contribute to the success of the team in similar ways. Hixon, a three-time All-Pac-10 selection, is a four-year starter and has played in 217 career games ... she has produced 205 hits (fifth all-time), seven home runs, scored 117 runs and recorded 69 RBIs ... Hixon has also tallied 32 career doubles (fourth all-time) and stole 16 bases ... in 705 career at bats, Hixon has struck out only 38 times (1:19 at bats). Thompson, also a four-year starter, is a two-time All-Pac-10 selection and an All-Pacific Region choice as a sophomore ... Thompson holds a career .341 batting average (seventh all-time) in 219 games ... she has produced 229 hits (third all-time), scored 142 runs and recorded 67 RBIs ... Thompson has also tallied 23 doubles, five triples, stole 34 bases (fifth all-time) and has sacrificed 60 times ... in 671 career at bats, she has struck out only 34 times (1:20 at bats) ... both players were members of the USA National Softball (Blue) team.
HEAD COACH LINDA WELLS: Coaching her 13th season at ASU and 28th of her career, Sun Devil Coach Linda Wells is one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Wells, who is currently the seventh-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 803 victories, has led the Sun Devils to nine (five consecutive 1997-01) NCAA Regional appearances in 12 seasons, including her first trip to the College World Series in 1999. While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled a record of 452-320 and has had five players earn a total of eight All-American awards. Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few will ever obtain, winning 800 career games against Rutgers (3/16/02). 2001 featured another one of Wells' teams finishing in the top-10 (No. 9), as well as playing one of the toughest - if not the strongest schedules - in the country (35 teams in the top-25). Wells also produced six Pac-10 Pitcher/Player of the Week honors, two NFCA National Player of the Week honors, two Academic All-Pacific Region choices, seven All-Pac-10 honorees and five Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Additionally, Wells was one of 12 coaches selected to form the USA Softball Women's National Team Coaches pool for the 2004 Olympic Games. She also had five current players earn invitations to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp. With the addition of seven All-Pac-10 selections in 2001 (the most since the 1990 season), Wells has now coached 59 all conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells has coached 28 .300 hitters at ASU in her 12 seasons, averaging a combined .330 - not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring.
MEDIA INFORMATION: All publicity for the ASU softball team are coordinated by Assistant Media Relations Director Will Phillips at (480) 965-1237. Any interviews with ASU softball players or coaches should be arranged through Phillips with at least 48 hours notice.
BRUN'S A HIT: Junior shortstop Kara Brun has made an impact while wearing the Maroon and Gold, offensively and defensively. In five games at the 2002 NFCA Leadoff Classic Tournament, Brun batted .500 (8-16) with three home runs, one double, three runs scored and eight RBIs. She also had 18 total bases a 1.125 slugging percentage and a .529 on base percentage. Against 19th-ranked Notre Dame, Brun hit two home runs, including a walk-off two run shot with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. At the time ASU was trailing 2-1. The win propelled ASU into the semifinals of the Silver Bracket. Earlier in the game, Brun hit her first home run to cut Note Dame's lead to 2-1. Brun then won the game in the bottom of the seventh. In the game, Brun went 2-4 with two home runs, two runs scored and three RBIs. Against 10th-ranked Michigan, Brun hit the first of her three home runs in the third inning, a three run blast to put ASU up 6-0. The home run was the difference in the out come of the game as Michigan cut into the six run lead with the final score of 6-4. For her performance, Brun was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week (Feb. 19-24). As a sophomore, Brun earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the team's Defensive Player of the Year award, currently carries a career .348 batting average (sixth all-time). She is second all-time in Arizona State history in home runs (19), and RBIs (118) and third all-time in doubles (33). Last year Brun had a 12 game hitting streak, second longest on the team and eighth longest in the Pac-10. She batted .311 with 59 hits, a team-high 34 runs and also posted team-highs in RBIs (42) and doubles (10). Brun finished second on the team in homeruns (6), had a .458 slugging percentage and recorded a team second-best 15 RBIs with two outs. Defensively, she turned 14 double plays, good for fourth in the Pac-10 and led the team with 129 assists. As a freshman, Brun earned All-Pac-10 second team honors, selected to the Region V All-Tournament team and was named the team's Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year. At the plate, Brun led the team in batting average (.352), hits (68), doubles (16), runs (44), total bases (108), and was second in RBIs (38). Brun tied the single-season record in home runs (8). Brun posted 18 multi-hit games, eight multi-RBI games and held a team-high 16 game hitting streak.
VOAK'S RESUME: Two-time senior All-American pitcher Kirsten Voak will look to end her outstanding career as one of the most prolific pitchers in Arizona State history. In just her second game in 2002, Voak became Arizona State's career leader in strikeouts, currently with 877 (fifth all-time in the Pac-10), breaking a 20-year old record. She is second all-time in Arizona State history with 76 career wins, making 161 career appearances (fourth all-time in the Pac-10). Voak also currently has saved 14 career games, five in 2002. As a junior she was named the team's Pitcher of the Year and pitched her first career perfect game against Utah State, tossing her fourth career no hitter. Voak earned Pac-10 honorable mention status and was a two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, giving her eight in her career (fifth all-time in the Pac-10). She finished 14th in the country and second in the Pac-10 with four saves after posting a 15-9 record in 141 innings. Voak also recorded two shutouts (23 career) with 161 strikeouts, held opponents to a .185 batting average, while averaging eight strikeouts a game. She has tallied 18 career double-digit strikeout games. After two ASU record-setting seasons (24 wins, 314 strikeouts/Fr.), (30 wins, 316 strikeouts/So.), Voak garnered her second NFCA All-American honor, was a first-team All-Pac-10 and second-team All-Pacific Region choice and was named the team's MVP and Pitcher of the Year. Last year Voak earned three Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors, giving her eight career awards (fifth all-time in the Pac-10) and was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic and NIST All-Tournament teams.
Voak's Career Double-Digit Strikeout Games (18):
15 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/2/00)
15 - Central Michigan, 8.1 innings (5/20/99)
14 - Utah, 7.1 innings (3/13/99)
13 - Santa Clara, 7 innings (3/10/00)
13 - Florida Atlantic, 7 innings (5/22/99)
12 - Washington, 7 innings (4/8/01)
12 - UNLV, 7 innings (3/26/00)
12 - Iowa, 7 innings (3/17/00)
12 - Portland State, 7 innings (2/26/00)
12 - Oregon State, 6 innings (4/24/99)
12 - Nebraska, 7 innings (2/13/99)
12 - Washington, 8 innings (4/10/99)
11 - Utah, 7 innings (3/10/00)
11 - Illinois State, 7 innings (2/20/00)
10 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/27/01)
10 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/25/99)
10 - Utah, 7 innings (3/18/99)
10 - Georgia Tech, 5 innings (3/9/02)
FIVE SUN DEVILS TO OLYMPIC CAMP: The Amateur Softball Association selected five current Arizona State players to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp this past summer at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Senior Kirsten Voak (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Red) team ... as a pitcher, she helped the team win the U.S. Cup), senior Missy Hixon (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Blue) team ... won the Pan Am qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela ... played in seven games with five starts ... batted .286 with two runs and two sacrifice hits ... posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, making six assists, senior Nichole Thompson (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Blue) team ... won the Pan Am qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela ... started and played in all eight games ... led the team in sac bunts (3), fourth in hits (9) and sixth in batting average (.391), junior Kara Brun and sophomore Kristin Farber. Also, of the 20 schools listed with players competing, Arizona State had the third most representing one school. USA Softball then selected two 16-player teams to represent the U.S. in international competitions at the U.S. Cup in Honolulu, the Canada Cup in Vancouver and the Pan Am Qualifier in Maracay.
NIST CHAMPIONS: ASU was declared the National Invitational Softball Tournament champion after rain showers made field conditions unplayable at the Pleasanton (Calif.) Sports Complex. The Sun Devils, who posted a 4-2 mark in the tournament, was the only team in the 14-team field to make it all the way to the championship game undefeated, therefore earning the tournament title. The NIST title is the second in the past three years for Arizona State and the third title (1990) for the Sun Devils in the history of the tournament.
KIA KLASSIC WRAP: The Sun Devils posted a 5-1 record in Fullerton, California as they advanced to the semifinals of the KIA Klassic Tournament. Phelan Wright's single in the top of the eighth inning, driving in Nichole Thompson from third was the difference in the game as ASU topped Texas, 3-2 in eight innings to open pool play. Kirsten Voak posted her second save of the year and hit her first home run. Against New Mexico, Voak struck out nine batters in just four and a one third innings, while Kara Brun went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for a 5-3 win. With the lead changing three different times, Erica Beach's solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning lifted ASU to a 6-5 win over 14th-ranked DePaul to win the pool. Voak took over pitching duties in the top of the seventh and retired the Blue Demons for her second save of the tournament. Head coach Linda Wells earned her 800th career win as ASU routed Rutgers, 11-1 in five innings in the opening round play of the championship bracket. ASU pounded out 13 hits with eight players recording at least one hit and one RBI as the game ended in the fifth inning. In the quarterfinals, ASU shutout second-ranked Arizona, 3-0, scoring all three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jennifer Forner started the inning with a double to deep center field. Forner then advanced to third base on a pass ball. Missy Hixon followed with a hard infield hit while Forner scored from third. Wright continued her hot bat with another double to right field, moving Hixon to third base. Brun was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Beach who then ripped a single down the third base line, scoring Hixon and Wright for the final 3-0 margin. Beach started the game with Voak coming in relief two different times, including the top of the seventh to retire the UA side. In the semifinals, a furious rally in the bottom of the seventh came up just short as ASU fell to eventual champion and ninth-ranked Cal State Fullerton, 7-5. Adriana Garcia opened by getting on base off of an error by the shortstop. After two outs, ASU's furious rally started. Forner was hit by a pitch for the second time to put Holck (pinch ran for Garcia) on second. Hixon then hit an infield single to load the bases. After fouling off several pitches, Nichole Thompson lined a single to left filed, plating Holck. Wright followed with a single to center to score Forner and Hixon, cutting the lead to 7-5. But, ASU could not plate another runner as the run to the championship ended.
SPEED TO BURN: Sophomore Kristin Farber is seeking to keep her pace up from last year when she led the team in stolen bases and was named the team's Freshman of the Year. In 2002, Farber again is pacing the Sun Devils, going 11-for-12 in stolen bases with a .308 average, including 33 hits and 14 runs scored. Farber earned second-team All-Pacific Region accolades and was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 after finishing fifth in the Pac-10 with 16 stolen bases. The 16 swipes were also a team-high and tied for ninth all-time in a single season at ASU. Farber played and started in all 58 games and batted .320, good for third on the team.
IVIE JOINS THE STAFF: Tamara Ivie begins her first season as an assistant coach on Linda Well's staff. Prior to her appointment at Arizona State, Ivie was an assistant coach at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California. From 2000 to 2001, Ivie was the second assistant coach at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Ivie also coached the 1997-98 seasons as the second assistant at Eastern Michigan University. On the professional level, Ivie spent the 1999 season playing on the WPSL's Virginia Roadsters. Additionally, Ivie played one season with the Ladies Professional Baseball League (Buffalo NightHawks). Before that, she played three years of professional baseball with the Colorado Silver Bullets. As a standout college player, Ivie played four years of softball at Cal State Northridge. While at Northridge, she earned All-American honors and was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection. During her four years, Northridge was a top-20 program while the 1994 team appeared in the finals of the College World Series. Ivie earned her bachelor's in kinesiology in 2000 and plans on getting her master's in physical education and sports counseling from Arizona State.
BEHIND THE PLATE: In addition to senior Bonnie Brannen, who is having her best year yet, the Sun Devils also have the services of Adriana Garcia. The junior has 18 hits, three doubles, one home run and 16 RBIs (13 with two outs). She has also thrown out five runners and picked off two others, while posting a .993 fielding percentage. Garcia was named the 2001 NFCA/NJCAA Division I Diamond Sports National Catcher of the Year and was a 2001 first-team All-American. The two-time all-region and all-conference selection, Garcia played the past two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona where she batted .448 with six home runs and 68 RBIs. Garcia recorded a fielding percentage of .991, while throwing out 29 base runners attempting to steal.
CAREER/ALL-TIME MILESTONES: Hixon needs eight more doubles for the all-time record (40) ... Voak needs six more wins for the school record (82) ... Brun is four home runs shy of the all-time record (23) and seven doubles short of the all-time mark ... Wright needs three more home runs for the single season record (9) and six more doubles for the single season mark (19).
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